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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET

Time Further Out

Not Now NOT2CD 433

 

 

CD1
Time Further Out
1. It's a Raggy Waltz
2. Bluette
3. Charles Matthew Hallelujah
4. Far More Blue
5. Far More Drums
6. Maori Blues
7. Unsquare Dance
8. Bru's Boogie Woogie
9. Blue Shadows in the Street
 
CD2
The Riddle
1. Hey, Ho, Anybody Home?
2. The Twig
3. Blue Ground
4. Offshoot
5. Swingin' Round
6. Quiet Mood
7. The Riddle
8. Yet We Shall Be Merry

Dave Brubeck - Piano
Paul Desmond - Alto sax (tracks I/1-9)
William O. Smith - Clarinet (tracks II/1-8)
Eugene Wright - Bass
Joe Morello - Drums

 

Having had huge success with the 1959 LP Time Out, it is no surprise that Dave Brubeck decided on a follow-up which came in the shape of the 1961 album Time Further Out. Once again, Dave plays about with various unusual time signatures, The album tracks are arranged in increasing order of time signatures, starting with It's a Raggy Waltz in 3/4 and closing with Blue Shadows in the Street in 9/4.

The proliferation of unexpected tempos starts me wondering if Brubeck's experiments with time were really so ground-breaking. After all, most time signatures can be broken down into sets of two, three or four beats. Even the famous Take Five is easy for drummers to play if they think in terms of three beats and then two - or vice versa. I wouldn't dismiss this obsession with time as a gimmick, since Brubeck was clearly sincere in his experiments, but I doubt if they added much to the potential of jazz.

The drawbacks of the trials are clear in Bluette, where the music is rendered ponderous by the double bass's emphasis on the first beat of the bar. Far More Blue and Far More Drums are both in 5/4. The latter features Joe Morello doing an impressive drum solo rather as he did in Take Five. As we move on through the disc, it becomes more and more difficult - and less worthwhile - to count the rhythm in one's head. One concludes that it doesn't really matter: what matters more is that the tunes supply possibilities for the musicians to improvise and that the rhythms help rather than hinder. Maori Blues seems to stagger along and Bru's Boogie Woogie feels as if it's in common time, but Unsquare Dance understandably became a Brubeck favourite, as its catchy theme is matched by a hypnotic beat.

This reissue of the 1961 album has the bonus of an extra CD containing The Riddle, a 1959 album which presents the listener with another puzzling set of tracks. The LP consisted of eight variations on a Christmas carol composed by clarinettist Bill Smith (rather pretentiously listed on the sleeve as William O. Smith), who replaces Paul Desmond. Smith studied alongside Dave Brubeck under Darius Milhaud, and Bill played with Dave in an octet from 1947 to 1951, as well as performing with the Brubeck Quartet in later years.

Bill Smith's tone is more rarefied than Paul Desmond's and some tracks - like the opening Hey, Ho, Anybody Home? and Blue Ground - are close to classical influences, although The Twig is more sprightly. Joe Morello's drums heat up Offshoot, and Swingin' Round allows Eugene Wright to show off his prowess on the double bass. Quiet Mood is what it says, and the title-track is distinguished by counterpoint between clarinet and piano. The suite ends with more jolly variations.

The Riddle is an interesting album, although Bill Smith's clarinet seems even more disembodied than Paul Desmond's alto sax.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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